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Ford Focus RS 2010 Review

EXPERT RATING
9

Belter. It's the word that sits best against the Ford Focus RS. The last time the Carsguide test team was this surprised and impressed by a turbocharged pocket rocket was when the Subaru STi first hit the road in Australia.

The go-fast Focus has everything we like in a compact speed machine, even without the all-wheel drive grip and security net that comes with   Subaru's WRX family and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. It is a massive step up from the XR5 turbo, which was the hero car in the Focus family until the RS arrived.

The RS is a car that makes every trip a fun run, although you must adjust to turning heads everywhere you drive it. Its turbocharged five-cylinder engine turns the front wheel and does it with plenty of theatricals, from the whoost and chatter of the turbo and wastegate to the way its front wheels scratch for grip under full throttle.

The worst thing about the RS is that only 315 cars have come to Australia and almost every one is already with its new owner. There is talk of another RS when Ford does a complete model change on the Focus, as well as a Fiesta RS to tap the 2011 challenger in the World Rally Championship, and we cannot wait.

VALUE

The price of the Focus RS is just about irrelevant, since all 315 cars were pretty much pre-sold. There could be a couple still lurking in Ford dealerships, but almost every one went straight to owners. That's proof that the price was right, even if $59,990 seems a lot for a front-drive car against a WRX from $39,990 and a Renault Megane RS at $41,990.

TECHNOLOGY

The heart of the RS is the upgraded five-cylinder Duratec engine also used by Volvo and in the Focus XR5. The difference is big, though, and not just the boost to 224 kiloWatts. There are major hardware changes inside the engine and the turbo also gets a tweak. The key to putting so much power on the road is the Quaife-brand torque sensing differential, as well as RevoKnuckle front suspension and 19-inch tyres and rims.

The RS also gets bigger brakes, tweaked stability control and a couple of convenience features including rear parking radar and excellent   Xenon headlamps.

DESIGN

The RS is still a Focus, but the body bits make a massive difference to the way it looks. For our money it easily trumps the STi from Subaru and makes the Evo look a bit plain.

There is a giant front spoiler and a substantial rear wing, but the WRC-inspired body changes include everything from the spoked alloys to a fake venturi under the rear bumper and meaty exhaust tips. Inside, the giveaway to the sports focus is the Recaro bucket seats and a meaty steering wheel. The look is not for everyone - and the kermit-green hero colour works best for people who like to wear their baseball cap backwards - but it makes the RS unique and desirable.

SAFETY

Some people think cars like the Focus RS are inherently less safe because of their potential for pace, but things like the bigger brakes and grippier rubber actually give them an edge. The basic Focus is a five-star car and it's the same for the RS, which also gets a full set of electronic safety gear - traction control, stability control, ABS brakes with brake assist. It also has six airbags.

DRIVING - HE SAYS
Paul Gover

The Focus RS is a hoot. It belts along whenever you uncork the turbo engine and shows how much is left in the Focus package beyond the XR5. It's a bit over-the-top in styling, but that clearly works for customers. And it is a car that makes you smile as you trip the central locking for another fun run.

The response from the engine is great, with real meat from 1500 revs   and a sustained push to the dline in all the lower gears. It's even enjoyable to upshift early - rally style - to keep it right in the torque band.

The five-cylinder engine has always had a special beat and the RS upgrade also brings the sort of whooshing and chuffing from the pipes and turbo that confirms a serious force-fed engine. The suspension is firm but not harsh, the steering response is instant and the brakes are great.

The Recaro sports buckets are firm but well shaped, although make it tough to get in and out. The huge turning circle is a disappointment and access to the back seats is poor, and rear vision is also limited by the giant wing. But the Focus RS is a special car and one that makes a WRX seem pedestrian.

Even the Lancer Evo suffers by comparison with the classy Ford, not on the performance front but because the RS is a taut package that does everything well and has impressive final finishing.

SHE SAYS
Alison Ward

This outrageous Focus is not a family car but it is one of the most   enjoyable cars I have driven in 2010. It is speedy around corners, has great visibility, has easy handling and is easy to drive. Except for the over-large turning circle.

I like that it's a hatch, and not just another WRX try-hard car. It's definitely punchier than the Subaru STi automatic we had in the driveway for a week. It's not easy to load a youngster into a car seat, but I like the comfort of those Recaro seats and the quick gearshift. I was sad to see it go.

VERDICT

A winner. The RS is a great driving car that is certain to be a collector's item. 

FORD FOCUS RS

Price: $59,990
Engine:  2.5-lite Duratec five-cylinder with twin-overhead camshafts
Output: 224kW/6500revs; 440Nm/2300-4500revs
Thirst:  10.4-litres/100km
Emissions:  246g CO2/km
Transmission: six-speed manual
Body: three-door hatchback SEATS : Four, Recaro front buckets and two-seat rear bench
Dimensions:  Length  4402 mm, Width 1842 mm, Height  1497 mm,   Wheelbase  2640 mm, tracks front/rear  1586 mm/ 1587 mm STEERING: power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Suspension: fully independent with front MacPherson struts and rear   control blade multi-link system
Fuel tank:  62 litres 
Wheight:  1492 kg
Wheels: 19x8.5 alloy Tyres : 235X35 R 19
Safety: ABS with electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Assist, Emergency Brake Assist, driver and   front passenger airbags, front and rear curtain airbags, pyrotechnic seat
belt pre-tensioners (front and rear)

Pricing guides

$8,888
Based on 142 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$3,990
Highest Price
$35,777

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Coupe-Cabriolet 2.0L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $9,700 – 14,630 2010 Ford Focus 2010 Coupe-Cabriolet Pricing and Specs
CL 2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $7,950 – 9,995 2010 Ford Focus 2010 CL Pricing and Specs
LX 2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,999 – 10,995 2010 Ford Focus 2010 LX Pricing and Specs
RS 2.5L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $34,990 – 35,777 2010 Ford Focus 2010 RS Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
9